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Posts from the SoHo Category

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Expecting DOT Street Safety Projects to Deliver More Than the Minimum

Spring Street in Soho is getting striped bike lanes -- but street safety won't come at the expense of on-street parking. Image: DOT [PDF]

Spring Street in Soho is getting striped bike lanes and sharrows, which doesn’t prioritize safety above the preservation of on-street car parking. Image: DOT [PDF]

A DOT plan to add painted bike lanes and sharrows to Spring Street [PDF] doesn’t go far enough to prioritize walking and biking, says Community Board 2 transportation vice-chair Maury Schott.

Last Thursday, DOT presented the proposal to the CB 2 transportation committee. Two-thirds of the audience supported the plan, meeting attendees said, and neighborhood NIMBY ringleader Sean Sweeney was a no-show. In the end, the plan received a unanimous 10-0 vote.

The lack of opposition, however, may be a sign of DOT timidity more than anything else. “The proposal by DOT was, to say the least, minimally intrusive,” Schott told Streetsblog. “It was as much as you could hope to do without making the commitment to remove parking on at least one side of the street.”

Although DOT has been on a roll this year with proposals for road diets and protected bike lanes, the agency’s designs usually don’t subtract much parking. Avoiding the removal of car storage may head off small-scale political fights, but it also limits the impact of the city’s street safety projects.

Schott said he wants to see DOT prioritize safe walking and biking over on-street parking, rather than the other way around. In Lower Manhattan, where about 80 percent of households are car-free, the politics should be especially favorable for major changes. Many people at last week’s meeting, Schott said, were also frustrated by “half-measures” from the agency.

“So far, many people feel that Vision Zero is a lot more talk than it is action,” Schott said. “The whole rhetoric of Vision Zero is that New York is a pedestrian-friendly or a pedestrian-dominated city. If you want to say that, then the first thing you have to realistically do is say that supporting the private ownership of private automobiles should not be a priority in any way.”

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Hudson Square Plaza Revamp Leaves Shared Space Street for Another Day

The plaza on the left is getting refurbished, but a shared space plan for this street was tabled in part because it's used as a display space for a motorcycle dealership. Photo: Google Maps

The plaza on the left is getting refurbished, but a shared space plan for the street was tabled because, among other reasons, it’s used as a display space for a motorcycle dealership. Photo: Google Maps

A plan to convert a two-block street on the border of Soho and Hudson Square into shared space is going to sit on the shelf — for now.

The Parks Department and the Hudson Square Connection Business Improvement District are splitting the cost of a $6 million plan to overhaul a triangular park along Sixth Avenue between Spring and Broome Streets. Conceptual plans for the space from 2012 showed Little Sixth Avenue, a two-block street on the west side of the park, being converted to a pedestrian-priority street that would slow drivers by blurring the line between street and sidewalk. But that was dropped from the project over concerns about utility work, costs, and loss of on-street parking.

“We’re not precluding it, but we don’t have the budget to include it,” said Signe Nielsen of landscape architecture firm Mathews Nielsen, which is designing the revamped plaza and worked on the previous conceptual plan. “We’re totally in favor of it. It was an initiative that we actually recommended in our master plan study, but we’re aware that DOT requires a lot of backup before they will allow such a thing to go through.”

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Paint It Green: The Grand Street Protected Bike Lane Is Almost Back

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After three years in hibernation, the Grand Street protected bike lane is about to return. Photo: Ben Fried

The Grand Street protected bike lane is on its way back after three years out of commission during construction of the Third Water Tunnel, the biggest capital project in New York City history. The Department of Design and Construction has repaved Grand between Lafayette Street and the Bowery, and preliminary markings for the bike lane are visible.

Grand Street has Manhattan’s only crosstown protected bike lane of significant length outside of Central Park — a key eastbound route that links up with the Manhattan Bridge and the Williamsburg Bridge. For the last three-plus years, though, this part of Grand has been a non-stop construction zone, with pavement rough enough to untrue even the toughest spokes.

Now the street is smooth, except for a few blocks west of Lafayette, where crews are still at work. That stretch should get better pavement and protected bike lane markings soon, as work on the water tunnel shifts east to the section of Grand between the Bowery and Essex Street.

The thermoplast and green paint can’t come soon enough. Gotta stop this from becoming a habit:

grand_cop

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A Safer, Saner Lafayette Street Is on Its Way This Summer After CB 2 Vote

Under the plan, a buffered bike lane would be converted to a protected bike lane with pedestrian islands. Image: DOT

After a unanimous vote at its transportation committee earlier this month, Manhattan Community Board 2’s full board last night unanimously passed a resolution supporting an upgrade of the buffered bike lane on Lafayette Street and Fourth Avenue to a protected bike lane. The project [PDF] runs from Spring Street to 14th Street and will include a northbound protected bike lane from Prince Street to 12th Street, pedestrian islands, and narrower car lanes to slow drivers.

The project is set to finish construction this summer. Crews have already started grinding pavement on Lafayette to repave the street, which currently has faded markings and a pockmarked surface.

At last night’s meeting, five people spoke in support of the plan, including Scott Hobbs, deputy director of the Union Square Partnership, and William Kelley, executive director of the Village Alliance BID. Transportation Alternatives also submitted a petition with signatures from nine business owners and 76 people on the street.

“We felt there were tremendous advantages,” transportation committee chair Shirley Secunda said of the plan, noting that it will keep the same number of car lanes while slowing drivers down, upgrading the bike lane, and improving signal timing at crosswalks. “Right now it’s in terrible, terrible shape and very unsafe,” she said. “It’s a tremendously wide street and the way the street will be reconfigured would allow for shorter crossings.”

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CB 2 Panel Unanimously Supports Lafayette-4th Avenue Protected Bike Lane

Under the plan, a buffered bike lane would be converted to a protected bike lane. Image: DOT

Under the plan, a buffered bike lane would be converted to a protected bike lane. Image: DOT

In a unanimous 9-0 vote last night, Manhattan Community Board 2’s transportation committee endorsed a DOT plan to upgrade a buffered bike lane on Lafayette Street and Fourth Avenue to a parking-protected lane, complete with new pedestrian islands, car lanes of an appropriate width for the city, and improved signal timing for pedestrians. The plan now moves to CB 2’s full board meeting on March 20.

“We’re here as part of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero campaign,” DOT project manager Preston Johnson said, pointing to safety gains similar projects have yielded on other Manhattan avenues. “This is a project that fits in with that by improving safety for all road users.” From 2007-2011, he said, six pedestrians, one cyclist and five motor vehicle occupants were severely injured in crashes on this section of Lafayette Street and Fourth Avenue.

The proposal [PDF] does not remove any car lanes, but instead narrows them on the avenues. Currently, lanes on Fourth Avenue feature a 14-foot-wide travel lane and a 21-foot-wide shared parking and moving lane. Under the plan, car lanes would be narrowed to 11 feet, with the right-hand lane on Lafayette slimming down to 10 feet.

“You really have a highway standard… which is inappropriate for this context,” Johnson said. “These moving lanes are just overly wide, and we’re able to repurpose that space more efficiently.”

Under the plan, the existing buffered bike lane, which ranges from nine to 11 feet wide on the left side of the street, will shift to the curb. Pedestrian islands will be added to the floating parking lane to shorten crossing distances, which are currently 71 feet on Fourth Avenue and 48 feet on Lafayette Street, curb-to-curb.

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Three People Killed by Motorists in Manhattan and Brooklyn This Weekend

Three people were killed by motorists in separate crashes in Manhattan and Brooklyn over the weekend.

Senior Willie Zachary was killed at 10 a.m. Sunday by a motorist, allegedly drunk and driving without a license, in a Harlem precinct where officers issue one speeding ticket every other day. Photo: DNAinfo

Senior Willie Zachary was killed at 10 a.m. Sunday by a motorist, allegedly drunk and driving without a license, in an NYPD precinct where officers issue one speeding ticket every other day. Photo: DNAinfo

At around 10:00 Sunday morning, Willie Zachary, 65, was struck on St. Nicholas Avenue in the vicinity of W. 131st Street by an alleged drunk and unlicensed driver. According to reports, Prince Julien, 23, was traveling south on St. Nicholas in a Honda Accord when he hit Zachary at a high rate of speed.

From the Post:

The victim’s head smashed the windshield, he was thrown about 60 feet and was declared dead at the scene, according to witnesses.

Onlookers said the driver was going so fast that it took him almost 200 feet to come to a complete stop.

“[The driver] got out of the car and started running toward the man on the ground,” said a security guard at a nearby building.

Julien was charged with second degree manslaughter, driving while intoxicated, and driving without a license, according to court records. The crash occurred in the City Council district represented by Inez Dickens, and in the 32nd Precinct, where as of October local officers had issued 183 speeding tickets in 2013, and 137 summonses for failure to yield to a pedestrian.

Vernon Bramble, 47, was struck by a driver who fled the scene as he crossed Flatbush Avenue at E. 34th Street in Flatlands at approximately 10:30 p.m. Friday, reports said. Bramble suffered head trauma. He was pronounced dead at Beth Israel Medical Center.

“They left him there like he was an animal,” Bramble’s niece, who did not provide her name, told the Daily News. “He was a very simple person who tried his best to be there for his friends and family.”

Bramble was killed in the 63rd Precinct63 speeding tickets this year as of October, and 41 summonses for failure to yield — and in the City Council district represented by Jumaane Williams. The driver had not been apprehended as of this morning, according to NYPD.

Two drivers ran over Cheikh Mbaye, 23, as he crossed Canal Street near Greene Street in Soho at 2:30 Friday afternoon.

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DOT Passes on Protected Bike Lanes for Tribeca, Gets CB Committee Support

With the exception of the Hudson River Greenway, routes between Tribeca and Greenwich Village can hardly be described as bike-friendly. Cyclists must compete with gridlock near Canal Street and the Holland Tunnel, while wide north-south arteries like Varick Street and Sixth Avenue are daunting roads. DOT is proposing a mix of upgrades between Warren Street and Washington Square, including buffered bike lanes and shared lanes — but nothing that would physically protect cyclists from the often-heavy traffic in this area. The plan received a 6-5 supportive vote from Community Board 1’s Tribeca committee Wednesday night.

DOT's proposed bike route from Washington Square to Warren Street is a mix of bike lanes and sharrows. Image: DOT

The route winds its way through the Village, Soho, and Tribeca [PDF]. Starting from the north, Washington Square would receive curbside green bike lanes on its east and south sides, and shared lane markings on the two-way section of Washington Square North.

West Broadway and LaGuardia Place would receive shared lane markings from Sixth Avenue to W. Third Street. Where LaGuardia Place widens slightly for one block between W. Third and Washington Square South, DOT is proposing bike lanes.

Cyclists on West Broadway looking to continue southbound would be directed to Varick via Broome Street, which would receive a green striped bike lane along the southern curb. However, for the block between Thompson Street and Sixth Avenue, DOT is proposing to add on-street parking along the south side of the street and install sharrows instead of a lane. From Sixth Avenue to Varick Street, Broome Street widens; the street would have curbside parking on both sides and an adjacent bike lane.

The agency is proposing even less for Varick Street, which is often full of traffic bound for the Holland Tunnel and Canal Street. Varick would receive shared lane markings in the leftmost lane from Watts Street to Beach Street, and for the single block between Broome and Watts, Varick would only receive bike route signage.

DOT proposed routing cyclists onto the sidewalk on the east side of Varick at Albert Capsouto Park, to avoid one block of rough cobblestone surface between Canal and Laight Streets. The sidewalk, which is not heavily used, would receive stencils like the ones through City Hall Park, but CB 1 committee members strongly objected to the concept. The resolution supporting the proposal included a request that DOT examine alternatives to the sidewalk route at Albert Capsouto Park, which DOT says it will reconsider.

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Iris Weinshall’s Anti-Bike Lawyer, Jim Walden, Is Back

The lawyer who spent a good chunk of 2011 deceiving the press and the public about the safety effect of the Prospect Park West bike lane is back in the news.

Former deputy mayor Randy Mastro and former DOT commissioner Iris Weinshall teamed up to launch Jim Walden to anti-bike prominence in 2010.

Jim Walden made an appearance in the Post this weekend on behalf of clients who are suing the city to remove a bike-share station from SoHo’s Petrosino Square. “I’ve been disappointed to see Citi Bike stations moved in wealthier neighborhoods,” he told the paper. “You would think [the city] would want to avoid even the appearance that struggling artists would be treated differently than highfalutin financiers.” Like so much of the coverage that came out of the PPW lawsuit, this turns out to rely on cherry-picked information.

The city has moved or adjusted bike-share stations not just in front of tony Manhattan condos, but also in Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, and western Bed Stuy. Council Member Tish James reported in May that her office was working with DOT on tweaking four stations, and the station now at Skillman and DeKalb was relocated from a previous site further south and east. The station site on the north side of Petrosino Square, meanwhile, collected more than 60 votes of support on the station suggestion tool that DOT referred to when designing the system map. The site may upset Sean Sweeney and his SoHo Alliance, but plenty of people told the city they think it’s a good place for a bike-share station.

New Yorkers got their first glimpse of Walden’s flair for generating bad press about bike projects in 2010, after Iris Weinshall, the former DOT commissioner who’s married to Senator Chuck Schumer, prevailed upon former Giuliani Deputy Mayor Randy Mastro to take the case against the PPW bike lane pro bono. Mastro is co-chair of the litigation arm at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, the mega-firm where Walden works.

In addition to retaining the services of Walden and other Gibson Dunn attorneys at no charge, the people who sued the city to reverse the PPW redesign hired a PR firm and worked their own, very substantial media contacts to drum up negative coverage about NYC DOT. The coverage quieted down after Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Bert Bunyan ruled that their case had no standing. But, as it happens, their appeal of that decision is still active, and Walden continues to pop up, making trouble for various DOT bike initiatives.

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Eyes on the Street: Driver Shatters Storefront on Lafayette

Photo: Christa Orth

We’re still filling in the details on this one, but here’s a look at the Gold + Williams furniture storefront on Lafayette and Kenmare in SoHo this afternoon. It looks like the driver kept going straight on westbound Kenmare, even though the street ends.

This block is very close to Streetsblog HQ and gets a lot of foot traffic during lunch hour. We’re checking in with NYPD and FDNY to see if anyone got hurt. Initial accounts reported by Gothamist suggest that, incredibly, no one was injured.

Wall Street Journal reporter Ted Mann adds this piece of background:

De-motorization of NYC streets can’t happen fast enough.

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Eyes on the Street: How About a Slow Zone for Prince Street?

Photo: Doug Gordon

Brooklyn Spoke’s Doug Gordon tweeted this photo Wednesday morning. This crash happened at the intersection of Prince and Crosby in Soho, which gets a ton of foot traffic and sees some of the highest bike counts in the city. It’s only random chance that someone didn’t get hit.

One change that would help regulate drivers’ speeds on Prince Street would be to re-time traffic signals to synch up with a more bike- and pedestrian-friendly 10-15 mph. In December, Manhattan Community Board 2 passed a resolution asking DOT to study “Green Wave” signal timing on Prince.